In recent days, headlines from numerous major media outlets have touted the possibility of a major East Coast storm snarling travel in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the busiest travel period of the year.

“A ‘potentially significant’ storm could hit the East Coast with rain and snow during the busy Thanksgiving travel week,” wrote CNN.

“Early travel ahead of Thanksgiving could be ‘a huge mess’ in parts of US,” AccuWeather wrote.

But weather models now agree that no big storms are expected in the days leading up to Thanksgiving in the Lower 48 states — good news for the estimated 53.4 million Americans traveling for the holiday.

Earlier this week, a few weather models predicted that a major storm would develop along the East Coast on Monday and Tuesday. They presented a scenario in which heavy precipitation and strong winds would blast the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. These models have now backed away from this idea.

However, the models still agree that a strong cold front will sweep from the northern Plains to the East Coast between Sunday and Monday, bringing gusty showers and plunging temperatures.

By Tuesday, some of the season’s coldest air so far will have infiltrated much of this region, and some snow showers will be possible downwind of the Great Lakes. Some wintry precipitation could also linger over northern New England.

But on Wednesday, the critical travel day for many, very little precipitation is anticipated over the Lower 48 states as temperatures begin to moderate in the East. That said, there may be some strong winds in the middle of the nation that cause flight delays.

Mostly tranquil weather will continue into Thanksgiving Day, although rain may begin to develop over Texas and parts of the South. This precipitation could expand northeastward into the weekend.

Some weather-related disruptions are possible for travelers returning home from the holiday on the weekend of Nov. 27 and 28, although the specifics of any storm system that far into the future remain fuzzy and beyond the limit of accurate forecasts.

Cold front to sweep through Sunday and Monday

The cold front entering the northern United States this weekend will plunge south at breakneck speed, passing through Minneapolis on Sunday morning and reaching Washington 24 hours later.

As the front dives into the Upper Midwest on Sunday, rain will blossom over the Midwest and Mississippi Valley in the morning, expanding northeast into the Ohio Valley during the afternoon, where it may be briefly heavy. The rain should spread over the Appalachians on Sunday evening and may extend to the Gulf Coast on Sunday night.

The first half of Monday looks wet for the East Coast, with the front clearing the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast by the afternoon, when it dries out. Rain associated with the front should exit New England by Monday evening.

Rainfall totals associated with the front’s passage should generally be light, less than half an inch in most places, but a bit higher perhaps in the Ohio Valley.

Strong winds in the vicinity of the front, gusting to 30 mph or so, will make it feel cooler and could cause a few flight delays.

Monday night into Tuesday, in the front’s wake, snow showers are likely to develop downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario, in western New York and Pennsylvania.

Precipitation may also linger over northern New England on Tuesday into Wednesday, particularly near the immediate coastline and into Maine, depending on the evolution of a possible storm off the coast. Current forecasts keep the storm far enough offshore that it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s worth monitoring.

Cold in the East on Monday and Tuesday

In the wake of the front, the coldest air mass of the season will spread across the eastern third of the nation, with temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below average.

The cold will grip the region from Minneapolis to Chicago on Sunday and Monday, with highs struggling to top freezing Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday, highs from Washington to Boston will be only in the mid-40s, with 30s in the interior Northeast and Great Lakes.

Wind chills on Monday morning will dip as low as the single digits in the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes, and the teens and 20s in the eastern Great Lakes and interior Northeast on Tuesday.

Quiet travel days on Tuesday and Wednesday, except for winds in the Heartland

Weather maps look rather quiet for Tuesday and Wednesday, with no major precipitation systems over the Lower 48 states. Some patchy light rain and snow could break out in parts of the Upper Midwest and Intermountain West on Wednesday.

However, strong winds may develop Tuesday in between a zone of low pressure in the Plains and high pressure in the Southeast, with some gusts over 30 mph possible from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis and Chicago. These gusty winds could expand toward Indianapolis and Detroit on Wednesday, as the low-pressure system scoots into the Upper Midwest.

Storm system may develop in Texas on Thanksgiving

A storm system may begin to organize in Texas on Thanksgiving Day, bringing periods of rain. That system may lift north toward the Ohio Valley on Friday and Saturday, spreading rain along the Gulf Coast and through the Ozarks and Tennessee Valley along the way.

Exactly how strong this system becomes, how fast it moves, where it tracks and how much precipitation it produces are still very uncertain. The specifics will come into better focus over the next several days.

The problem of promoting long-range forecasts

The headlines this week raising fears about a big storm — more than a week into the future — that isn’t going to materialize show the downside of spotlighting long-range forecasts.

Computer model forecasts more five or six days into the future are notoriously unreliable, and highlighting a major, high-impact event so far out is risky without significant qualification.

“When displaying or sharing forecasts that are highly complex and/or involve longer lead times, providers are encouraged to communicate the full range of scenarios for a weather event rather than just providing a single, specific forecast,” states a guidance document for the public sharing of weather information from the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

Even if a long-range forecast is qualified within an article, headlines — which leave little room for nuance — often are not. Many people don’t read beyond the headline.

“Sensational headlines, or ‘clickbait,’ may attract views but can do users a disservice by oversimplifying or exaggerating a complex weather situation,” the AMS document says.

The headlines from CNN and AccuWeather about the possible storm next week were blasted on social media and amplified by other publications, leading to the flawed narrative of a disruptive, high-impact event for the East leading up to the holiday.

(Capital Weather Gang’s story on the storm, posted Wednesday, headlined a “strong cold push” and “possible storm,” noting high in the article that computer models were “wavering” on the storm idea.)

Matthew Cappucci contributed to this report.